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Racial inequality 'entrenched' in NZ - commission

Published: 7:00AM Thursday March 08, 2012 Source: ONE News

  •  (Source: ONE News)
    Source: ONE News

There are still significant and entrenched racial inequalities in New Zealand, according to the Human Rights Commission.

In its annual review of race relations released today, the commission says while  solid progress has been made in race relations over the last five years, key barriers continue to hamper community relations.

The report found that despite relatively healthy race relations, three barriers continue to undermine positive race relations.

There is a continuing degree of racial prejudice, significant and entrenched racial inequalities and exclusion of minorities from full participation in all aspects of society, the report found.

Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres told TV ONE's Breakfast this exclusion is particularly felt by Asian New Zealanders in trying to get jobs at their level of qualification.

De Bres said there is no simple way of tackling exclusion, prejudice and inequalities.

"You can't just say to people 'change your mind'.

"It's a slow process of working with organisations - whether they are government or business or schools or community, sports organisations - looking at valuing diversity."

The Commission recommends 10 priorities for 2012 to address the issues it found.

Top of the commission's list is improving the safety and wellbeing of children, focusing on their rights. This would include the Maori Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the wellbeing of Maori children, and the Government responses to the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children and the Early Childhood Education report.

Another priority is actively focusing on inclusion in all aspects of New Zealand life to break down discrimination against Asian New Zealanders and other minority ethnic groups.

The commission also recommends reducing social and economic inequalities by addressing entrenched inequalities across different sectors.

It also wants to see protection of beneficiaries and their families by ensuring that reforms aimed at reducing welfare dependency do not adversely affect the welfare of them and their families.

The commission also wants central and local government to communicate with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the Christchurch earthquake recovery, and in the event of future civil emergencies elsewhere.

It also recommends public discussion of New Zealand's constitutional arrangements including the Treaty of Waitangi during the constitutional review.

It wants to see approval and a start on implementing the refugee resettlement, implementing the Pacific Languages Framework and determining the future strategy for te reo Maori.

The commission also recommends improving representation of diverse communities in the media, recognising the changing demographics of the New Zealand audience.

It also recommends engaging with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in their review of New Zealand's compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Demographic changes

De Bres says school enrollment data for 2011 indicates that no single ethnic group is likely to constitute a majority of the population in the future.

The data offered an insight into New Zealand's demographic changes, he said.

Notably, in the Northern school region - Auckland and Northland - nearly 60 percent of students are Maori, Pacific, Asian and other non-European.

In the Central North region - South of Auckland and north of Turangi - nearly 40 percent of students are Maori.

De Bres told Breakfast New Zealand must recognise that it is truly an Asia Pacific nation with European, Pacific, Maori and Asian communities who are very substantial and a huge diversity of others.

He also said we have to look at the opportunities provided by diversity.

The Commission's efforts in things like Race Relations Day coming up this month are  around "celebrating, acknowledging and welcoming the diversity of our society," de Bres said.

Read the full review Race Relations in 2011 .

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